If you had to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how well you cope with stress in your work environment, what would your rating be?
The truth is: work is complicated. There are multiple levels of stress.
These can range from pressure to get your work done (and done well), to navigating different personalities... not to mention the pressure you put on yourself to exceed expectations.
As an entrepreneur, there’s an added level of stress.
The pressure is on you if things work or don’t.
There are days it can feel so overwhelming, you may find yourself wishing you’d never signed up any of this.
Can you relate?
I wanted to spend time today equipping you with tools to handle this stress.
Pressure from work isn’t going anywhere. You can’t change it.
But what you can change is how you respond to it.
And note: it is possible to create systems that help you handle stress.
I’m going to share 3 hacks with you.
One hack is going to help your overall outlook.
The other 2 hacks are practical solutions.
Ready? Okay let’s get into it.
Coping Hack #1 - Keep A Scorecard
I’m hoping you’re familiar with keeping stats.
You may do it in “the office”.
Maybe in the form of sales numbers. Or email opens.
Have you ever thought about keeping a scorecard on your own body as it relates to stress at work?
Here’s what I mean:
Stress is internalized.
Especially at work.
There will be certain tasks (or even people) that trigger a more intense stress response than others.
When you feel those spikes, you need to pay attention.
Start noting what brings you higher levels of stress.
Is it when you have a looming deadline?
Is it when you see a huge list of tasks on your plate?
Is it a specific kind of task? Like writing, or speaking?
Use pen and paper, or a note on your phone, to seriously start keeping score here.
If you don’t become consciously aware of these triggers, you won’t know how to address the stress.
If you want to take it a little farther, you could rate the level of stress.
I’d honestly recommend doing this so you can come up with a list of prioritized tasks that need coping strategies.
Give yourself a couple weeks to track your responses to stress. Mainly, so you can get an accurate reflection of your internal state.
Once you’ve done this, it’s time to use the other two hacks.
These two hacks center around specific processes.
The processes I use, and will explain, are coping mechanisms for stress.
Coping Hack #2 - Change How You View Your Calendar
There are two approaches you can use, depending on what’s causing stress.
The first is calendar blocking or stacking.
Calendar blocking is simply blocking out your calendar to get stuff done.
Calendar stacking is when you block and then stack tasks together in that calendar block.
You’d do this when you need to batch stuff together.
In other words, you need a chunk of time to just get shiz done. And the tasks relate to each other.
On your calendar, this would look like setting aside a specific amount of time to knock out a task or group of tasks that are all similar in nature.
The “similar in nature” part is key.
For example, you leave the house to run a bunch of errands that are all near each other in proximity.
Or, you write all your social media content in one sitting. Not daily.
In order for this to really work effectively, you gotta let your brain focus on one task (or a set of tasks that are similar) at a time.
This way, you won’t be tempted to get distracted and off track.
Use calendar blocking and then stacking when you have a lot of one type of task to do.
Other Examples of this could be sales calls, or sending emails. Or like I mentioned earlier, writing a lot of content.
I do this every Tuesday and Friday..
I set aside a few hours to brainstorm and outline, and then to review, all my content all at once.
So every Tuesday and Friday, I know what I’m doing. I’m focused. And I can show up mentally prepared.
Okay, now here’s the second approach for this process hack: use, what I coined, calendar staggering.
Calendar staggering is when you stagger your days.
You may already have predetermined blocks of time you assign things. Like working out every morning.
But you don’t design your day the same every day.
So I may calendar block and workout every morning.
Or host zoom calls Mondays.
Or write and edit content Tuesdays and Fridays.
Or deep dive into my stats Wednesdays.
Or record podcasts and coach Thursdays.
But I change my start times to give me the stamina I need.
Most days of the week I start my day at 7:30am prepping for my workout and then I dive into my business by 9am.
But Tuesdays I push everything back and hour so I can catch up from my Monday.
I get an extra hour of sleep or progressive relaxation. Which gives me the stamina I need.
And then I’m back at it Wednesday and Thursday morning. But Friday I start a tad later again.
Our bodies need to recover. Which leads me to the third hack.
Coping Hack #3 - Use Progressive Recovery
This is a really simple concept that I’ve taken from athletics and applied to life.
Here’s how it works:
When you’re heavily working out, you build a “recovery day” into your schedule.
Because your muscles need to relax.
You can’t push your body non stop, without a break (that’s how injury happens).
On those relaxation days, your muscles are still being built. They’re just getting a reprieve from stress.
The same concept applies to your life.
There are days when you’re heavily working.
But there also needs to be days or chunks of time where you’re relaxing -- and I don’t just mean the weekend.
As you spend time monitoring your stress responses (like we talked about with the very first hack), you’ll begin to notice triggers for you.
You’ll also begin to realize that using systems like calendar blocking, stacking and staggering can really help relieve some of that stress.
But they can’t take all of it away.
Because we aren’t work machines.
We need to respect the fact that our bodies and minds need a break.
Even during the week.
So the way you use this hack is to build into your schedule a block of rest time of at least 60 minutes.
This is a time where you allow yourself to do no work.
Or, stagger your start times like I do.
But it’s so incredibly important to give yourself progressive recovery days or blocks of time.
Just like how it helps your body grow in strength, it helps your mind grow in strength too.
This mini planner will help you create time to implement these hacks.